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Personal Rejection is an Illusion

A comment to last week's post "Do You Believe in Rejection? Too bad." elicited a comment so completely in error, and so dangerous to sales success, that I'm rebutting it here before it does any serious damage. Frequent Sales Machine commenter JacquesWerth writes:

That a prospect hangs up on you is not a textbook definition of rejection. It's merely one type of rejection, which happens during less than ten percent of contacts the average salesperson makes. Most salespeople would not have much of a problem if rejection was limited to that ten percent. However, it is during most of the other contacts they make when more serious rejection occurs.
The most frequently occurring rejection is when the prospect's response is clearly a personal rejection, whether subtle or overt. The prospect may become non-responsive or display annoyance, frustration, sarcasm, anger, spite or abusiveness. That type of rejection is very difficult for most salespeople to deal with because it is real rejection. Salespeople who experience that kind of treatment and "do not believe in rejection" are hallucinating.
Sales managers and sales trainers who urge salespeople to ignore personal rejection, to develop a thick-skin, or to get over their fear of failure, do not provide a cure for the problem. That just prolongs the agony.
Jaques, what can I say? While I know from your previous comments that you're a smart guy, you're dead wrong about this one.


There is no such thing as personal rejection. The "rejection" is simply a trick that your mind is playing on you, assigning emotional weight to an event that actually has no real meaning.

To illustrate this, I'll use an example from a kind of selling where the product and the salesperson are the exact same thing -- a guy selling a woman on the idea that she should go out on a date with him.

Talk about the potential for "rejection"!!! Millions of guys live in terror of this situation. I remember seeing a friend of mine literally break into a cold sweat at the idea of asking out a girl at a party.

Even so, the anticipated "rejection" is just an illusion, a fact that I'll illustrate with a personal example from my own (long over) dating life.

I was once rather "smitten with" an attractive woman in my martial arts class. However, despite several attempts on my part, she simply would not go out with me. In fact, she seemed offended I had even asked.

A classic case of "rejection," right? I should have been crushed, right?

Not so fast! Since we hung with the same crowd, I began noticing the kind of guys she dated. They were all about 5'6", dark-eyed, with long dark hair, and played in rock bands.

I'm 6'1", blue-eyed, with short blond hair, and write about business. Under her "rules" for what she found attractive in a potential mate, I wasn't even in the freakin' ballpark.

So where's the rejection? She had her rules; I didn't fit those rules. And, guess what? I have my rules, too. My rules said she was attractive. Our rules didn't match up. Big effin' deal.

Now, suppose she actually had been the type who wanted to date guys similar to me. And suppose I had asked her out, but due to an awkward approach, she decided to "reject" the idea.

Sorry, but the "rejection" in that case is an illusion, too. All that would mean is that my sales approach didn't match her rules, even though the product met her needs.

So I would need to change my approach. Or move on to the next prospect. So, where' the "rejection"? Nowhere. It doesn't exist.

The truth is you're going to run into people whose rules don't work to your advantage. And even when you're aligned with prospect's rules, sometimes you're going to use the wrong approach.

So what's the big deal? Why put a negative emotion on it by calling it "rejection"? Frankly, this rejection stuff seems to me just to be an example mental laziness and self-sabotage.

Delete "rejection" from your mental vocabulary. It's not real.

NOTE: The comments below are addressed in the related post "Wanna Sell More? Think with Better Words!".

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